The fourth-grade reading program is strategy-based and focuses on enhancing both reading fluency and comprehension. To teach and practice these reading strategies, we use a variety of grade level and instructional level fiction and nonfiction stories, as well as novel units. Emphasis is given to making inferences, determining importance, and summarizing, which help students to be more successful in all subject areas.
Our reading block each day is divided into shared and guided reading. During shared reading, the teacher builds background, introduces vocabulary, and guides the class, focusing on a specific reading strategy. During guided reading, children work at their individual reading level to practice the strategies and reading skills introduced by the teacher. It is during this time that children have the opportunity to meet in small groups with the teacher to receive specialized instruction.
The fourth-grade writing program centers around the six main traits of writing- ideas, organization, voice, sentence fluency, word choice, and conventions. Each quarter, the children are taken through the five step writing process to learn and practice these traits. In addition, teachers offer mini lessons to reinforce grammar skills and strengthen editing skills. Through these writing prompts, journal entries, and other literary responses, the students become more proficient writers.
The fourth-grade word study program focuses on teaching the conventions of spelling in a developmental way. Students are grouped according to their developmental stage, which is determined by periodic spelling inventories. The students are given word lists that focus on specific spelling patterns. By sorting and manipulating these core words, students gain the ability to transfer these patterns when spelling new words.
Our math program in fourth grade builds on the many skills acquired in previous grades. Through the use of both concrete and virtual manipulatives, the students are introduced to the basic operations of larger whole numbers, fractions, and decimals. Students are also taught to find reasonable estimates for basic computations using rounding. Other topics of study include basic geometric representations and transformations, measurement, probability, and statistics. With the increased rigor in math, teachers emphasize strategies and skills to solve a variety of multi-step problems. Throughout the year, students are actively engaged in math by utilizing real world problems, interactive games, and technology-based lessons.
The fourth-grade science topics include: ecosystems, life cycles, plants, weather, electricity, forces and motion, and solar system. Throughout the year, the scientific process is emphasized through lab activities and technology-based learning. Concepts are taught through video clips, leveled readers, and interactive notes. Inquiry learning is reinforced through the participation in class projects, presentations, and group experiments.
Fourth-grade social studies is centered around the state of Virginia and its historical importance within the United States. Students are introduced to the five regions of Virginia, its major cities, and waterways. The history of Virginia is taught in sequential order starting with the founding of Jamestown. Major topics include: early settlers of Virginia, Revolutionary War, Civil War, Reconstruction, Civil Rights Movement, and present day state government. Teachers introduce topics through the use of video clips, interactive notebooks, primary and secondary documents, read-aloud text, and the traditional text. Topics are reinforced through interactive plays, chants, flashcards, games, field trips, technology-enhanced lessons, and engaging activities. Each student is provided with a Virginia Studies Booklet, outlining key concepts, and is valuable tool when preparing for unit tests.